The Effect of Thought on the Lower Kingdoms of Nature
The rapid developments in light technology are a symbol of the soul light that is steadily waxing in human consciousness; energy follows thought and the more enlightened humanity’s thinking, the more beautiful and refined will become the illumination of the physical plane. There is still a long way to go, of course, and the following remark made in the book A Treatise on White Magic over sixty years ago still has relevance today: “The tendencies of human desire and thought are not at this time of the highest order, and….the vast assembly of insects which now haunt our planet and cause increasing concern to the scientist, agriculturist, and all those dealing with the welfare of the human animal, are the direct result of thought precipitation.”
This extraordinary statement reveals how direct the relationship is between human consciousness and the natural world. The subhuman kingdoms of nature are also in search of greater light, and the quality of human thinking either assists or hinders their cause. To understand how the spiritualization of man’s thinking would end the insect pest and bring beauty and harmony to the planetary ecosystem, we can consider the iridescent splendour of a butterfly’s wings. According to Rudolph Steiner, the thread of substance that the caterpillar spins into a cocoon from its own body is fused with spiritual force patterns inherent in the sunbeam. Within this spiritual light imprisoned in the chrysalis, a new creature is formed that flies out as a sun-being.
Always the effect of spiritual forces imprisoned in light is to produce colour and this is seen to great effect in the butterfly’s wings. It is a lower correspondence of the way in which the soul colours its own body of expression on the mental plane. Here, the light of the spiritual sun is fused with the purified substance of the disciple’s thought life. This process can only occur because the human being is individualized and has an aspect of the ego – which we refer to as “I” – residing within his physical plane consciousness which does the thinking. The inhabitants of the lower kingdoms of nature have no individualized ego and cannot think in this way. Therefore the group soul of each sub-human species works externally on each life-form in cooperation with sunlight – colouring and beautifying the form nature; and this, in turn, stimulates and refines the nascent point of consciousness within.
As the disciple purifies the “I” state of consciousness, it becomes as a spiritual sun radiating its light into the lower kingdoms of nature. Fused with natural sunlight, it accelerates the evolution of the group souls of all the myriads of species of fauna and flora who work upon refining their form nature. And so, through the transmutation of humanity’s thought life will come the lifting of “Nature, red in tooth and claw” into a more harmonious state of consciousness – the butterfly’s wings being a symbol of this process.
As we work towards that time, the knowledge that human consciousness either enlightens, beautifies and harmonizes the natural world – or darkens, spoils and increases conflict within it – serves as food for thought for every aspiring esotericist. It is the deeper meaning hidden in the quote that “the magical work, and the next twenty-five hundred years will bring about so much change and make possible the working of so many so-called ‘miracles’ that even the outer appearance of the world will be profoundly altered. ” (Esoteric Psychology I, p.83)
The bright and delicate butterfly fluttering in the air is a symbol of the world to be when mankind has achieved an enlightened state of mind and is subsequently transforming nature. And just as the caterpillar weaves the cocoon from which the butterfly emerges and takes to the air, so does the disciple weave in the light, colouring his egoic body and spinning the rainbow bridge across the mental plane into the air of the buddhic realm. It is for this reason that meditation on the butterfly stimulates the mind aspect, and why the adept associated with the Alice Bailey teachings gave to one of his disciples the following “magical phrase” for the development of his mental body:
"Like a golden butterfly which flies in the face of the sun, I find myself poised upon the lotus petal of the earth. I hover; I stay a little moment and then I fly—into the golden pathway that leads unto the sun." 1
Adapted from an Arcane School monthly letter.
1 Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I, p. 460